Homestead Paperback – 5 Feb 2001
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'The 12 linked stories of Homestead, set in the fictional village of Rosenau, get immediately under the skin and pack as much punch as 12 novels, diving into the characters' most wrenching moments…Lippi's language is as direct and elemental as the world it describes. What is extraordinary is the way it so factually evokes the wistfulness, inner corrosion, or immense tenderness of lives that are both circumscribed and rich, mundane, but over the long haul, deep in drama…You begin to feel that you yourself are one of the people of Rosenau.' The Observer
Set among the women of a remote Alpine village, this novel spans most of the 20th century and puts at the heart of each chapter a different woman, at a point in her life when her long-suppressed desire of anger or jealousy flares briefly into vivid life.See all Product description
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A lovely little book taking the reader into the realms of a remote village in Austria just after the turn of the 20th centuary, then following the generations forwards.
It delves into the minutae of the lives of the people who live and cope with the extremes of nature away from civilisation, and how their life style changes as the rest of the world becomes more accessable to the region.
It was not really like any other book I have read, written in quite a poetic style using descriptions of how they did things in order to bring their way of life to my imagination.
The book gradually took us through about three generations and young women in the first few stories had become old ladies by the end. It was sort of set from before WWII through to some years later but their life style had not actually changed that much in all those years.
It was set in the mountains of Austria in an area of farming and tiny villages. the animals were taken up to the alp ( not alps - this is an area where the animals graze in summer - a la Heidi) for the summer and their made cheese and lived simple but hard lives.
It was interesting and very well written but not what I would describe as a page turner.
I found it easy to identify with these women from a totally other time and place. The prose effortlessly pursues the grim facts, but there is deep empathy too. The difficulties faced by one woman - Johanna - in particular are handled sympathetically when she finds a fugitive from the war hiding on her farm. Other stories include the horror of a family when two of their children are classed as imbeciles and removed in a Nazi programme. Men return from war marked by mutilation both internal and external; some women are left to fend for themselves or find themselves at the mercy of old patriarchies that make themselves felt.
Rosina Lippi lived for four years in this small community and its fictionalisation has a strong grounding in fact. From the peculiarities of their naming systems to their problems with an uppity cow (of the moo variety), and from the depth of harrowing wartime experiences to the courtships and flirtations of the community, all are beautifully delineated. It doesn't read however, like a documentary script. More accurately it is a first-class novel with a very strong grounding in fact - and very enjoyable it is too.